PhD candidate "Immune effector mechanisms in advanced atherosclerosis"

PhD candidate "Immune effector mechanisms in advanced atherosclerosis"

Published Deadline Location
20 Feb 20 Mar Leiden

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The Division of BioTherapeutics at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) is looking for a:

PhD candidate for the project "Immune effector mechanisms in advanced atherosclerosis"

Job description

Project description
Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease and a prominent underlying condition of cardiovascular disease. Despite the availability of lipid lowering drugs, cardiovascular disease remain a major contributor to mortality and the leading cause of death worldwide. Mast cells are crucially involved in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis. Previous work from our lab has shown that particularly in unstable human atherosclerosis, mast cell density is increased and that mast cells actively promote disease progression. This project aims to understand how these mast cells contribute to cardiovascular disease and investigate mast cell-dependent interactions with immune cell populations in the atherosclerotic plaque. Thereby, we aim to identify the most relevant pathways that drive atherosclerosis and develop novel therapeutic strategies to inhibit mast cell induced pro-atherogenic mechanisms. The PhD student will join our enthusiastic team studying the different immune aspects of atherosclerotic lesion progression to discover new therapeutic targets and strategies for the treatment of atherosclerosis.

Key responsibilities
The aim of your PhD project is to provide fundamental knowledge regarding the contribution of mast cell-mediated immune responses to cardiovascular disease, in particular atherosclerosis. You will 1) Integrate Big-data approaches with human plaque histology and ex vivo experimentation to reveal mast cells interactions in the atherosclerotic lesion, 2) establish causal relationships and mechanistic insights into inflammatory pathways in atherosclerosis, focussing on the mast cell and 3) design and test new therapeutic strategies to inhibit atherosclerosis.

You will use a combination of murine and human atherosclerotic materials and will closely collaborate with international researchers of the Leducq network ‘CHECKPOINT-ATHERO’ (


Leiden University


Selection criteria
We are looking for an enthusiastic, bright, well-motivated, and ambitious scientist:
  • With a recent Master degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Medical Biology, or equivalent
  • With a strong interest in and experienced with immunological research
  • With experience with in vivo studies (artikel 9, proefdierkunde), flow cytometry, single cell technology (working in R), immunohistochemical techniques and molecular biology is an advantage
  • With proficiency in English, both verbally and in writing
  • Who is an independent and creative team player with good communicative skills

Conditions of employment

Our organization
Working at the Faculty of Science means being part of an exciting, dynamic scientific environment which sets high standards for its students and staff. The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is diverse, ranging from computer science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences.
The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and over 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. For more information, see

The division of BioTherapeutics is part of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). Our institute is a centre of excellence for multidisciplinary research on drug discovery and development. Leiden University consistently ranks within the top-20 world-wide within the subject-based QS Ranking in Pharmacology and Pharmacy. At LACDR, we develop innovative scientific concepts in fundamental and translational research underlying the discovery and optimization of drugs, and personalised medicines. We aim to optimise the route to novel drugs that are both efficacious and safe, and therefore our research focuses on drug discovery and safety, bio-therapeutics, and systems biomedicine and pharmacology. State-of-the-art expertise and infrastructures ensure that we are strategically positioned in (inter)national collaborations, thus further strengthening the development of novel concepts and their application in a clinical and industry environment. More information about LACDR you find on the website.

The division of BioTherapeutics operates at the forefront of research in the field of therapeutic modulation of cardiovascular disease. The research aims to identify new immune targets in atherosclerosis and to develop innovative biopharmaceutical concepts to intervene in cardiovascular disease. The use of specific gene-knockout technology, biologics such as vaccines, therapeutic proteins and cellular therapy, provides a unique approach for the development of new therapies for the treatment or prevention of atherosclerosis. For more information, see

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time appointment of initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the research, teaching evaluations, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended for another three years. You will be appointed in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The salary ranges from € 2.770,- to € 3.539,- gross per month depending on experience (pay scale P)

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the rese


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14586



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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